Britons back the Blackberry

Aug 29 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

They might be at risk of becoming so-called "Crackberry" addicts, but for most British managers, mobile technology gadgets have become pocket-sized life support systems that go everywhere their owners do – even if that's on the beach.

The extent to which the Blackberry and its numerous spin-offs have become a ubiquitous part of working life has been underlined by a new poll which has found that over two thirds (68 per cent) of senior executives take a BlackBerry, palmtop or laptop with them on holiday in order to monitor work emails.

Almost half of the 350 executives surveyed by communications consultancy The Aziz Corporation - and two-thirds of those with a BlackBerry – said that they check their work emails at least once a day while they are away, although the majority (73 per cent) only respond to urgent matters.

The research comes only days after a U.S. management professor warned that executives who cannot bear to be parted from their Blackberry could be suffering from an addiction that is every bit as damaging and hard to break as one to hard drugs – and one that employers might one day be held liable for.

Gayle Porter, an associate professor of management at the Rutgers University School of Business at Camden, said that while workaholism is an increasingly recognised problem, too many vested interests have conspired to place the business world in denial about addiction to communications devices.

"Owing to vested interests of the employers and the ICT industry, signs of possible addiction - excess use of ICT and related stress illnesses - are often ignored," Porter argues.

But despite the extent to which being in touch 24/7 has blurred the boundaries between work and leisure, the Aziz Corporation study revealed strong support for the Blackberry and its ilk.

Far from viewing them as an intrusion, three-quarters of Britain's business leaders believe that remote access technologies keep them up-to-speed and make it easier to return to the office after a holiday.

More than one in 10 even go so far as to say that checking emails whilst on holiday can provide a welcome break from the family, just as a holiday can offer much needed respite from the office.

The down side to always being in touch, however, is that two-thirds of those surveyed feel that they that mobile technology means that they can never truly switch off from work – although their attitude appears to be one of resigned acceptance rather than resentment.

And while almost half (45 per cent) also accept that this means that they end up working even longer hours than in the past, some nine out of 10 believe that it also means that work that can often be done more conveniently when at home or away from the office.

"We all need to have time away from the office to recharge our batteries and enjoy our hobbies and families," said Professor Khalid Aziz, Chairman of The Aziz Corporation.

"However, commitments are a corollary of seniority and long hours are a fact of life for many. Remote access technology has revolutionised the way we work, allowing us to stay in touch wherever we are. It provides a means of working more conveniently and productively and, as such, is warmly welcomed by Britain's business leaders."